Page:EB1911 - Volume 02.djvu/182

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the temple, and so generation after generation the hope of the kingdom persisted, sustained most probably by ever-fresh reinterpretations of ancient prophecy, till in the first half of the 2nd century the delay is explained in the Books of Daniel and Enoch as due not to man’s shortcomings but to the counsels of God. The 70 years of Jeremiah are interpreted by the angel in Daniel (ix. 25-27) as 70 weeks of years, of which 691/2 have already expired, while the writer of Enoch (lxxxv.-xc.) interprets the 70 years of Jeremiah as the 70 successive reigns of the 70 angelic patrons of the nations, which are to come to a close in his own generation.

But the above periods came and passed by, and again the expectations of the Jews were disappointed. Presently the Greek empire of the East was overthrown by Rome, and in due course this new phenomenon, so full of meaning for the Jews, called forth a new interpretation of Daniel. The fourth and last empire which, according to Daniel vii. 19-25, was to be Greek, was now declared to be Roman by the Apocalypse of Baruch (xxxvi.-xl.) and 4 Ezra (x. 60-xii. 35). Once more such ideas as those of “the day of Yahweh” and the “new heavens and a new earth” were constantly re-edited with fresh nuances in conformity with their new settings. Thus the inner development of Jewish apocalyptic was always conditioned by the historical experiences of the nation.

(b) Another source of apocalyptic was primitive mythological and cosmological traditions, in which the eye of the seer could see the secrets of the future no less surely than those of the past. Thus the six days of the world’s creation, followed by a seventh of rest, were regarded as at once a history of the past and a forecasting of the future. As the world was made in six days its history would be accomplished in six thousand years, since each day with God was as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day; and as the six days of creation were followed by one of rest, so the six thousand years of the world’s history would be followed by a rest of a thousand years (2 Enoch xxxii. 2-xxxiii. 2). Of primitive mythological traditions we might mention the primeval serpent, leviathan, behemoth, while to ideas native to or familiar in apocalyptic belong those of the seven archangels, the angelic patrons of the nations (Deut. xxxii. 8, in LXX.; Isaiah xxiv. 21; Dan. x. 13, 20, &c.), the mountain of God in the north (Isaiah xiv. 13; Ezek. i. 4, &c.), the garden of Eden.

ii. Object and Contents of Apocalyptic.—The object of this literature in general was to solve the difficulties connected with the righteousness of God and the suffering condition of His righteous servants on earth. The righteousness of God postulated according to the law the temporal prosperity of the righteous and the temporal prosperity of necessity; for as yet there was no promise of life or recompense beyond the grave. But this connexion was not found to obtain as a rule in life, and the difficulties arising from this conflict between promise and experience centred round the lot of the righteous as a community and the lot of the righteous man as an individual. Old Testament prophecy had addressed itself to both these problems, though it was hardly conscious of the claims of the latter. It concerned itself essentially with the present, and with the future only as growing organically out of the present. It taught the absolute need of personal and national righteousness, and foretold the ultimate blessedness of the righteous nation on the present earth. But its views were not systematic and comprehensive in regard to the nations in general, while as regards the individual it held that God’s service here was its own and adequate reward, and saw no need of postulating another world to set right the evils of this. But later, with the growing claims of the individual and the acknowledgment of these in the religious and intellectual life, both problems, and especially the latter, pressed themselves irresistibly on the notice of religious thinkers, and made it impossible for any conception of the divine rule and righteousness to gain acceptance, which did not render adequate satisfaction to the claims of both problems. To render such satisfaction was the task undertaken by apocalyptic, as well as to vindicate the righteousness of God alike in respect of the individual and of the nation. To justify their contention they sketched in outline the history of the world and mankind, the origin of evil and its course, and the final consummation of all things. Thus they presented in fact a theodicy, a rudimentary philosophy of religion. The righteous as a nation should yet possess the earth, even in this world the faithful community should attain its rights in an eternal Messianic kingdom on earth, or else in temporary blessedness here and eternal blessedness hereafter. So far as regards the righteous community. It was, however, in regard to the destiny of the individual that apocalyptic rendered its chief service. Though the individual might perish amid the disorders of this world, he would not fail, apocalyptic taught, to attain through resurrection the recompense that was his due in the Messianic kingdom or in heaven itself. Apocalyptic thus forms the indispensable preparation for the religion of the New Testament.

iii. Form of Apocalyptic.—The form of apocalyptic is a literary form; for we cannot suppose that the writers experienced the voluminous and detailed visions we find in their books. On the other hand the reality of the visions is to some extent guaranteed by the writer’s intense earnestness and by his manifest belief in the divine origin of his message. But the difficulty of regarding the visions as actual experiences, or as in any sense actual, is intensified, when full account is taken of the artifices of the writer; for the major part of his visions consists of what is to him really past history dressed up in the guise of prediction. Moreover, the writer no doubt intended that his reader should take the accuracy of the prediction (?) already accomplished to be a guarantee for the accuracy of that which was still unrealized. How, then, it may well be asked, can this be consistent with reality of visionary experience? Are we not here obliged to assume that the visions are a literary invention and nothing more?

However we may explain the inconsistency, we are precluded by the moral earnestness of the writer from assuming the visions to be pure inventions. But the inconsistency has in part been explained by Gunkel, who has rightly emphasized that the writer did not freely invent his materials but derived them in the main from tradition, as he held that these mysterious traditions of his people were, if rightly expounded, forecasts of the time to come. Furthermore, the visionary who is found at most periods of great spiritual excitement was forced by the prejudice of his time, which refused to acknowledge any inspiration in the present, to ascribe his visionary experiences and reinterpretations of the mysterious traditions of his people to some heroic figure of the past. Moreover, there will always be a difficulty in determining what belongs to his actual vision and what to the literary skill or free invention of the author, seeing that the visionary must be dependent on memory and past experience for the forms and much of the matter of the actual vision.

iv. Apocalyptic as distinguished from Prophecy.—We have already dwelt on certain notable differences between apocalyptic and prophecy; but there are certain others that call for attention.

(a) In the Nature of its Message.—The message of the prophets was primarily a preaching of repentance and righteousness if the nation would escape judgment; the message of the apocalyptic writers was of patience and trust for that deliverance and reward were sure to come.

(b) By its dualistic Theology.—Prophecy believes that this world is God’s world and that in this world His goodness and truth will yet be vindicated. Hence the prophet prophesies of a definite future arising out of and organically connected with the present. The apocalyptic writer on the other hand despairs of the present, and directs his hopes absolutely to the future, to a new world standing in essential opposition to the present. (Non fecit Altissimus unum saeculum sed duo, 4 Ezra vii. 50.) Here we have essentially a dualistic principle, which, though it can largely be accounted for by the interaction of certain inner tendencies and outward sorrowful experience on the part of Judaism, may ultimately be derived from Mazdean influences. This principle, which shows itself clearly at first in the conception that the various nations are under angelic rulers, who are in a greater or less degree in rebellion against God, as in Daniel and